Loading

Find free public water spots

When you live in a house or apartment, you are used to having plenty of water. Living in a van, motorhome or converted truck is quite the opposite! Water is scarce, our tanks are 20L to 120 liters on average. I like to say that we are going green in spite of ourselves: we have no choice but to be water efficient.

However, this fact is not a barrier to autonomy. Because indeed, it is rather easy to find water points, and this even for free. You just need to know where to look and especially not to hesitate to ask! In 3 years of vanlife, only one person denied me access to water, and I never paid to fill my tank.

Cemeteries

This article can just end after this point. Cemeteries are the best free public water spots. Cemeteries are easy to find, easily accessible and often have good watertabs.

However, arriving with your motorhome or van in front of a cemetery to take a dip in it is not very well received. Place of worship, it is understandable why people do not appreciate seeing travelers “on vacation” stealing water from their cemetery.

This is why we advise you to:
Always pay respect to the visitors. Other visitors of the cemetery are most likely not there for the same reason, so it is best that you wait until the cemetery is empty before you start tanking water, keep the visitors in peace.
Comply to the visitors. When someone asks you to leave you have to leave, it is possible that a burial is going to take place soon.
Don’t leave a trace. Don’t make to much of a watery mess and keep/return everything at its place. Every cemetery has a gate, close it when you leave.

A few things to keep in mind:

Some cemeteries don’t use clean water but ground water. So always check the water before you start tanking it.
Purchase a big water can and a water hose. There are a lot of different types of watertabs, on some a hose can be attached and with some not. In this case you need a water can to transfer the water.
There are sometimes multiple water tabs on a cemetery, if 1 does not work search for others.

Gas stations

In some countries you can find water tabs at gasstations, especially on the highway. It’s never a bad idea to check every time you’re going to tank fuel. Countries where we found a lot of tabs at gasstations: Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy and Slovenia.
Water tabs are often located at the fuel stations or the air stations.
Gas stations have these water tabs for customers to clean their tires and to fill the cleaning buckets to clean car windows.

Free camperspots

There are free camperspots everywhere where you can find public water tabs. You can also often dump your gray water at these spots.
To find these spots you can use the ‘Park4night’ app.

Boat Harbors

Like motorhomes, boats need to tank water and need their decks to be cleaned. This is why there are almost always water points at harbors.  Nothing prevents you from asking if you can use it!
Before drinking: do check if the water does not come out of the river itself, then you should only use it for your van watertank(undrinkable).

Parks

When you’re visiting a big city there is a possibility that there is no cemetery or free camperspot near. But you do have a big chance that there are parks closeby that have water tabs. These tabs never have tabs where you can connect a hose on, so be ready to drag the water can a few times! These tabs are also builded that they can’t stay on for long, you need to keep pressing the button every few seconds to start the water again. In short, prepare to be clumsy, tired and probably wet!
There is not really a way to check before visiting a park if it has a water tab. Maybe if you check the pictures on Google maps you can see if there is one, but in any case it’s best to just go visit it.

Play yards

Same story for play yards, except that the tabs are most likely much smaller, don’t expect to be able to fill huge water canisters here.

Companies

As you’re cruising around in your little van you will visit a lot of businesses; garages, flower shops, construction stores, markets, antique stores, monuments etc.. At business like these you can ask if you could tank some water. Especially if the business is small, they will have no problem with it! Also; A no is what you have, a yes is what you can have!

Construction sights

On construction sights there are water points for the workers. These are big bathtubs scattered around the sight. You can disconnect the hose from this and tank water, or you use your water can of coarse.

Keep in mind that these are not public, it’s best to ask permission from the projectleader.

Rivers

If you want to be completely self sustaining you could buy a water filtering system. With this you can collect water out of rivers and filter it to drinkable water.
Also you can easily use unfiltered river water to shower, do the dishes and all the other activities that require water.
Just take note that if you do this a lot, you’ll have to clean your van water reservoir more often.

This solution is in my opinion the best knowing that there are various ways to purify the water in a camper / van / converted truck ! The river water + purification system combo is today the most obvious way to get free water, even if it requires an initial investment. The price of these purifiers varies a lot depending on the method used, but can be very affordable! I made several comparisons, which you can find here .